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The Origins of Common Identity: Division, Homogenization Policies and Identity Formation in Alsace-Lorraine

Center for Comperative and International Studies (CIS), Working paper No. 89

81 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2016 Last revised: 5 Jul 2017

Sirus Dehdari

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES)

Kai Gehring

University of Zurich - Chair of Political Economy; University of Heidelberg

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 4, 2017

Abstract

We exploit the fact that disagreements in the German leadership after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 led to a quasi-exogenous division of Alsace and Lorraine to provide rare evidence of group identity formation within historically homogeneous regions. In line with the rejection-identification hypothesis, people in the treated area which experienced a change in nation-status and were exposed to repressive homogenization policies express a stronger regional identity and support more regional autonomy today. On average, subjects with a stronger regional also express a stronger European identity, which we exploit in a regression discontinuity design at the municipal level to reveal whether these identity differences are causal. We find that support for the European Union is significantly stronger in two crucial referenda, a result that is robust across different specifications and bandwidths, and not driven by language differences, large agglomerations or distance to foreign countries. The effect seems to be the strongest for the first two age cohorts after World War II and diminishes for later generations.

Keywords: Group identity, Identity formation, Homogenization policies, Assimilation, Rejection identification hypothesis, Persistence of preferences, Alsace-Lorraine

JEL Classification: D91, H70, H80, N40, Z19

Suggested Citation

Dehdari, Sirus and Gehring, Kai, The Origins of Common Identity: Division, Homogenization Policies and Identity Formation in Alsace-Lorraine (July 4, 2017). Center for Comperative and International Studies (CIS), Working paper No. 89. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2818919

Sirus Dehdari (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://sirusdehdari.aerobatic.io

Kai Gehring

University of Zurich - Chair of Political Economy ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland
+4917620916056 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.kai-gehring.net

University of Heidelberg ( email )

Grabengasse 1
Heidelberg, 69117
Germany

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